Digital Diplomacy, 4 years and now change.

Wow. There is a sea change happening in the Middle East. The 2013 Iranian Election will mark the end of one cycle, and the beginning of another. What a long path to this point.

The cycle ending is the cycle of the first few revolutions/civil wars and government overthrows that happened in full view of, and in part due to social media. The one beginning is going to become the post-social media middle east. One where the power of the people, won out, country after country.

Just a brief history.

In the late spring and early summer of 2009, Iran was in the throes of pre-election frenzy. There was a moderate trying to overthrow the conservative leadership through peaceful, democratic means. But it turned bad, and turned bad fast. The Green Revolution as it was called, inspired people to great heights of hope and also tremendous depths of despair that resulted from the horrific human rights abuses, torture, death, kidnappings, rapes, that were committed by the Iranian Government and it’s religious and civil allies to prevent the Green Revolution from succeeding.

I documented this struggle of the Green Revolution on Twitter, on Facebook and on You2Gov which was the website I had started in 2008 and which we put into hiatus in 2010. Here is the twitter history. In fact it was this period with the efforts I and many others did to document the digital, social history; and to learn from it that was one of the reasons I started “Gov20LA” in the first place. People’s voices need to be heard. In a good and positive way that allows everyone, those in government and those outside to feel comfortable making changes. Changes have to come from multiple parts of society not just one. But this has to be in moderation.

Since then we have seen the Occupy movements spring up in cities around the world. We have seen Tunisia, and Egypt fall with in the same week almost in 2011. I talked about this at the opening of Gov 2.0 L.A in 2011. We actually did a “Digital Diplomacy Panel” at the 2011 Gov20LA event. In part the exploding use of social media and mobile technology was openly discussed in a live stream during that panel.

Now, we see Turkey struggling with their own version of the “Arab Spring” that many people are referring to as #OccupyGezi on Twitter and other social media. Syria and Russia are going through massive social change again, with Syria in middle of a bloody and growing civil war; and Russia moving to limit rights of protestors, and curtailing free speech more and more.

But four years after the Green Revolution, the people of Iran have delivered a surprise to the world. A moderate. With none of the bloodshed or violence of the Green Revolution from four years ago. This time around #Iranelection is a positive hashtag with huge meaning. No longer meaning death, torture.

I think it is time for Syria, Turkey, Russia to pay attention and start making changes now. Because clearly, the power of the people when amplified by social media and mobility, is world changing power. Power in the hands of the people.

Preview of Gov 2.0 L.A. 2013 From Twitter.

Register for Gov 2.0 L.A. 2013 on Eventbrite

[View the story “Preview of Gov 2.0 L.A. 2013 From Twitter.” on Storify]

Gov 2.0 L.A. 2013 is almost here.

As the founder of @Gov20la “Gov20LA” as it is referred to, I could not be more excited and proud. As the event gets ready to head into our fourth annual one; we are getting ready to make history, break some trendlines, and lead the dialog for another year.

But before discussing the amazing people who will be speaking I would like to highlight a major achievement of Gov 2.0 L.A.:

Since our first event in 2010, we have created and enabled an environment around building our speakers base as one that represents our society. So we have 50 percent female speakers and 50 percent male speakers. This is a critical achievement and comes at a critical time when this very issue is the subject of TV, Radio and written debate. Just recently there was an article by Nilofer Merchant (@nilofer) in the Harvard Business Review, with one of the salient points being made is that LESS than 20% of all conference speakers and panelists are Female. Less than 20%.

So Gov20LA is proud, as am I, to be able to say that we have beaten this particular national average and beaten it solidly. I continue to ensure that the speakers split for Gov20LA is evenly split between men and women, and did so because it is the right thing to do, not because we thought that in four years everyone would be talking about it. But that is what has now happened.

Gov20LA 2013 is going to rock! I could not be more excited about the powerful collection of women and men who will be speaking,

[View the story “2013 Speakers for Gov 2.0 L.A. ” on Storify]

Thank you! We look forward to seeing you in person and in our live stream on April 20, 2013.

Alan W. Silberberg, Founder, Gov 2.0 L.A.

Look Back at Gov 2.0 L.A. 2012

It Was Amazing. Thank you to all who made Gov 2.0 L.A. 2012 a success for the 3rd year in a row. We had over 44,000 people participate in our livestream of the event from at least 19 countries.

A huge Thank You goes out to Callfire, Citysourced, Rockcreek Strategic Marketing, Davenport Institute, TechZulu, for sponsoring and making this event happen.

All of the videos will soon be posted on to our Vimeo Page at http://www.vimeo.com/gov20la and additionally we will be posting the presentations shortly as well.

Enjoy this Storify post about the various tweets, photos, blogs, etc coming out of this event.

[View the story “Gov 2.0 L.A. 2012 in Tweets, Pictures, Blogs” on Storify]

3 Themes for Gov 2.0 LA 2012 (and it’s our 3rd year!)

The third Gov20LA is coming up soon. In fact in April of 2012 at the same location as this year.

As we have in the last two years, the event will be fully live-streamed and interactive with twitter, facebook, chat.

We are past the point where the “Gov 2.0” in our name does more than evoke recognition. It is time to focus not on the theoretical but on the practical. This past year the world has witnessed upheaval and change on a scale that is new to all of us. When we did Gov20LA this year – Tunisia had just fallen, and the crisis in Egypt was just erupting in full; we had a collection of the some the world’s leading thinkers about guess what, social media in times of crisis and governments. It was to be sure pretty amazing timing. Hopefully the drama this coming year will once again be focused on the amazing speakers we will soon be announcing and the world eyes will be watching us with the ability to learn without being present in the room necessarily.

The three themes of this upcoming Gov20LA are going to be:

1. Business inside Government and how it is rapidly becoming different, things like SCRM are being deployed and government is basically being forced to restructure itself.

2. Goverments’ use and management of social media in crisis like the earthquake, hurricanes, riots.

3. Engagement is now being taken as a for granted thing, “everyone has a facebook page” but how real is it and how are crowd-sourcing and public private partnerships re-arranging the landscape?

We are requesting two things from you.

1. If you would like to submit a panel idea or speak please contact us here.

2. We will be issuing a follow up post before January 1, 2012 with regard to sponsorships and corporate opportunities, but if you are interested in sponsoring the event or some part of it, please contact us at Gov20LA@Gmail.com. Once again we appreciate all of the previous sponsors of the past two years, and could not have done it without each and every company and person who stepped up to sponsor the event.

Gov 2.0 Listening in 5 World Capitals.

Change is here. It is happening everywhere. I have been fortunate in the last few months to speak and also do a tremendous amount of listening and asking pertinent questions of minister level officials in 5 national capitals, on 4 continents. The pace of change in government use and implementation of social media, gov 2.0, open gov, egov and various other monikers is extremely rapid, in some countries it is breakneck.

But still the old bogeyman is hanging around. Fear. I have written about the role Fear plays in the gov 2.0 and open gov discussions around the world, but this recent world tour just confirms that fear is still the largest inhibitor to successful implementation of new plans, and actually stops some excellent programs right in their tracks. I have personally witnessed the role fear plays with minister level officials down to low level staffers as well as with political functionaries in multiple countries. I have been in meetings just this year where fear is so palpable in the room; that literally nothing gets done with the exception of voices being raised in anger or out of frustration.

That being said, there are also tremendous advances being made – both those that have been officially sanctioned and budgeted and those where courageous government workers are sticking their necks out to test, take chances and experiment. More and more it is less the top down movements and more the individual workers who are making the real changes. Because a shift in acceptance of a new role; of a new place in the workplace is well underway.

But besides fear, economic concerns are also hitting this movement, both positively and negatively. In USA budgetary crisis are causing ripples up and down the Gov 2.0 movement as it is called here. But at the same time the budget crisis globally is refocusing anew the issue of legacy system investment versus investment in new technologies that are often more cost effective and much more efficient.
So pretty soon we will be crossing the chasm of decision making from supporting older legacy systems and protocols with the need to be competitive on a data basis in an increasingly competitive and real time 24/7 world.

The time to make decisions about abandoning old legacy systems with a sunk investment versus the new-found results and applications available for cheaper alternatives is upon our society, and much like Y2K there is at least partially a ticking clock. This time it is how long will current systems last before not being able to operate in a new world?

In Europe which is also facing severe economic contractions, the funding for these programs is in fact increasing for now, but that may change if the EU financial situation continues to get worse. Additionally, certain European countries need to make a mind shift from cyber space equaling protection of assets versus cyber space being a multilateral space where protections of freedoms are just as important.

Australia is committing funding and new initiatives that will drive the adoption of these practices, including the NBN (national broadband network) which will effectively wire most of the continent to be able to implement egov and open gov quickly.

Canada is struggling with funding issues and a perceived innovation gap – but at the same time it actively encouraging the open gov coalition and just recently announced a new web standards policy and it is clear that there are some powerful ministers and ministries looking to adopt egov and open gov sooner than later.

The UK is getting ready to reveal its next new initiative “GovUK” currently in Alpha, getting ready to be launched in Beta, which will serve a government wide portal along the lines of Govusa, but with a much more direct call to action and a major change in how UK gov websites will be run and maintained in the near coming future.

Russia has a small but extremely active egov movement, and there are surprising strides coming out of Russia, including a gov 2.0 proponent now running for the Duma on an open gov platform. But given Russia’s history of top down management of its people and government, the egov movement in Russia struggles against the state dominated ownership and manipulation of both the media, and the infrastructure necessary to provide open gov, like ISP’s government maintained choking of internet access and the ability to shut off the internet from the people in a very dramatic fashion.

What I have learned mostly though, is that the breakneck pace of change that has been rattling the government and e-government spaces since 2008 is having real results globally. I will leave it to others to pick apart my statements or point to specific case studies. But reality is social, mobile, cloud are here and have forever changed how governments interact with themselves and with us.

As published on Silberberg Innovations